James Twyman
The Peace Troubadour
By Phill Daniels

 

 

James Twyman has shown many sides of his personality since he burst onto the metaphysical scene twelve years ago. As an author he is responsible for several international bestsellers including his first non-fiction adventure, “Emissary of Light — A Vision of Peace”. As a peacemaker, he has traveled the globe focusing international prayer vigils in countries like Iraq, Northern Ireland and Bosnia, vigils millions of people have participated in. As a filmmaker he wrote and produced the ground breaking feature film “Indigo,” and directed the documentary “Indigo Evolution” as well as the feature film “Into Me See”.

But there is one role James has played since the very beginning, the role he considers to be his central and most important character: The Peace Troubadour. After arranging music to peace prayers from the major religions of the world in 1994, he set off to share his vision of how to make the world a more harmonious place to live. He has produced six CD’s, all focusing on the original peace prayers, and has traveled the world performing for leaders of governments, the United Nations (twice), the U.S. Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. Some think he has had a busy life since accepting this role, but for James it was a natural step.

“I really don’t think I’ve been busy at all,” he said. “Sometimes I work like crazy, if I have a book or a CD due, but overall I’m pretty laid back and normal. I get passionate about what’s in front of me; in fact, if anything I get passionate about too many things. Sometimes I’m passionate about a movie script or a new book; then I’ll get passionate about a single song. Over the last year, I felt a strong need to simplify my life and refocus. I think that’s why I decided to work on this new CD, and of course to embark on a tour that to most people sounds completely insane.”

The CD he is speaking of is “Peacemakers, Vol. I”, a collection of songs inspired by quotes from Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The “insane” tour he refers to may be exactly that — sixty-four concerts in sixty-four days, part of “The Season for Nonviolence” which begins on January 30th, the anniversary of the assassination of Gandhi, and goes to April 4th, the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King.

“It seemed like a great idea at the time,” James said when asked why he decided to embark on such an adventurous tour. “I knew people would hear about it and say it was crazy. But hopefully that also means they’ll come to one of the concerts. I am not as concerned about the schedule as most people think. The music for me is like a prayer, which means I’ll be praying with hundreds of people every night. That’s something I could do every night of my life.”

What is perhaps most interesting is that he wrote eight of the songs on the new CD, which he’ll perform on tour, in one hour.

“I find that when I follow my heart the music comes out of me without any effort,” he explained. “When I first read these peace prayers in 1994, it was as if I had just heard the music, like from another room. I picked up the guitar and wrote all twelve songs in about an hour and a half. I never had a prior experience like that and didn’t have it again until I decided to work on this new project. I started surfing the web to find quotes from Gandhi and King that resonated with me. Sometimes I would find one line, like Gandhi’s quote: ‘God has no religion’, and the rest of the song would follow. My favorite song from King came from his final speech, the one he delivered right before being assassinated. He spoke about having gone to the mountain and seeing the promised land, and that he wasn’t sure if he would ever make it there himself. He was comparing himself to Moses, and that is exactly what happened.

“This music celebrates them as great peacemakers, but it also celebrates the human spirit. It’s something that lives inside each one of us, and that’s what I hope this music touches.”

As a child James always felt he was destined for greatness, but not in the ordinary sense of popular fame. His father was transferred from one company to another during the 60’s and 70’s, forcing the family to adapt to new situations and places. With five kids in tow, they wondered if they would ever settle down and live normal lives, but it was James who never seemed to stop. After graduating from high school in Minnesota, he moved to Chicago to become a Franciscan Friar, and hopefully someday a priest. He looks back on those days with great fondness.

“I was raised in a very traditional Catholic family, and I was also deeply spiritual. At the time I didn’t know the difference between spiritual and religious, and so it was an easy choice to want to be a priest. My spiritual mentor was St. Francis of Assisi, and that’s why I wanted to be a Franciscan. Musically I was more attuned with people like John Lennon and Bob Dylan, people who were making a difference with their music. I thought I could combine the two, and that’s where the idea came to be a Peace Troubadour. For three years I was a wandering bard without a home or any money. It felt very St. Francis-like. Then I started writing the books, then the movies, and everything expanded to an enormous degree. In a way I am trying to get back to my roots, back to where it all started for me.”

James’ organization, The Beloved Community, became the vehicle for expansion. Tens of thousands of people have taken his Internet courses, including “The Spoonbender’s Course”, attended by over 40,000 people from nearly every country in the world, and the seminary he founded, The Seminary of Spiritual Peacemaking, which has ordained nearly 500 Peace Ministers. Add to this, nine books, three films and the CD’s, and it isn’t hard to see how he lost his way. Now he believes it’s important to be true to the heart of one’s mission, rather than trying to do too much.

“In my heart I am ‘The Peace Troubadour,’ and my music and prayers are my soul,” he said. “I’ve scaled back other things in my life, even though they’ve all been wonderful and have helped me achieve a great degree of recognition. At this point in my life the recognition and fame are secondary to achieving my main goal.”

When asked what that goal is, Twyman simply said: “Living this message myself. It doesn’t do any-one any good if I talk or write about this unless I practice it. In the end I hope people say that he lived what he believed and helped a lot of people to do the same.”

For more information visit www.jamestwyman.com


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